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Joint Communiqué British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, 18 December 2002
Text: British and Irish Governments ... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh
Joint Communiqué of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIC),
Farmleigh, Dublin, 18 December 2002
- A meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference was held at Farmleigh, Dublin, on 18 December 2002.
- The Irish Government was represented by the Joint Chair, Brian Cowen, TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was accompanied by Michael McDowell, TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The British Government was represented by the Joint Chair, the Rt. Hon. Paul Murphy, MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who was accompanied by Jane Kennedy, MP, Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office.
General political matters
- The Conference reviewed political developments including the recent series of round-table and trilateral talks with the parties. The two Governments welcomed the sense of urgency and engagement displayed in theese discussions. They were encouraged by the extent of the shared analysis which exists in a number of areas between most of the parties and by the evident determination to build on the common ground. The Governments look forward to further engagement at the round-table meeting tomorrow in Belfast.
- Both Governments reiterated their commitment to the full implementation of the Agreement as the only way forward for the people of Northern Ireland. It remains their determined wish to see devolved Government restored as soon as possible and in advance of the scheduled elections. It is both Governments’ shared desire to see, in the near future, a representative Assembly and an inclusive Executive at work again on behalf of the entire community in Northern Ireland.
- The two Governments believe that, in order to ensure the stability of the Institutions, it is essential that all parties in the political process are fully committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. They also believe that the full implementation of outstanding aspects of the Agreement provides a political context conducive to the achievement of the required transition to exclusively democratic means.
- There was an exchange of views on policing, particularly in regard to the amending legislation to give effect to the provisions in the revised implementation plan. The British Government provided an update on progress of the legislation in Parliament.
- On Criminal Justice matters, the Conference noted that the devolution of justice and policing had been raised as a significant issue in the multi-party talks. The British Government indicated its intention to publish a revised implementation plan.
- On security matters, discussion in the Conference focused on measures to address paramilitary activities, sectarian violence and cross-border issues, including the combatting of organised crime. The Conference also discussed the process of security normalisation, including the modalities of making progress in this area.
Institutional consequences of suspension
- The Conference discussed the implications of suspension for the operation of the various institutions under the Agreement, including the arrangements recently set in place to provide for care and maintenance of the North/South Bodies during the period of suspension. These discussions reflected the expressed determination of both Governments to protect and maintain the achievements of the Agreement. In the light of recent public comment, the Governments agreed the attached joint statement.
- The Conference agreed that, in accordance with the Strand III provisions of the Agreement, a review should be carried out of the workings of the British-Irish Agreement and the institutions established under it. The modalities of how this review will be taken forward will be considered by the Joint Secretaries of the Conference, in consultation with both Governments.
- The Conference also discussed broadcasting matters, the forthcoming publication of the census results and the implementation of the reports of the West Belfast/Shankill Task Forces.
Date of next meeting
- The Conference agreed to meet again in February.